Cox Communications last week lost a case to music publisher BMG Rights Management and was told to pay $25 million in damages after a federal court in Virginia found it liable for copyright infringements carried out by its customers.
The case was filed in 2014 after it was alleged that Cox failed to pass on cash settlement demands to customers that were sent by anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp on behalf of BMG.
Now Rightscorp has said that now the court has decided that ISPs are responsible for their customers piracy large amounts of money will have to change hands.
“For nearly five years, Rightscorp has warned US internet service providers (ISPs) that they risk incurring huge liabilities if they fail to implement and enforce policies under which they terminate the accounts of their subscribers who repeatedly infringe copyrights,” the company said.
“Over that time, many ISPs have taken the position that it was simply impossible for an ISP to be held liable for its subscribers’ actions — even when the ISP had been put on notice of massive infringements and supplied with detailed evidence. There had never been a judicial decision holding an ISP liable.”
Until now Rightscorp was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy for a couple of years now.
Cox said in a statement that it was disappointed in the ruling and planned to appeal. If it does not win then it means that suddenly trolls like Rightscorp will have the power to demand money with menaces from any ISP whenever it feels like, much in the same way that it tried to get individual subscribers. If the case is accepted as a precedent, it could mean that ISPs could be held responsible for libel, terrorism, crimes, or anything else their customers do on their networks.
It is hard to see how the Internet could actually survive this particular court ruling, at least in the US.